By Raïssa Robles
Let’s just say Angelo Reyes did tell someone who then told Malou Mangahas of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism the following statement before killing himself:
I did not invent corruption. I walked into it. Perhaps my first fault was in having accepted aspects of it as a fact of life.
Let’s just say he truly said this.
The implications are mind-boggling because Angelo Reyes, the military chief, led the withdrawal of support from President Joseph Estrada on Janaury 19, 2001. Two months later he retired, and two days after his retirement he became defense secretary
Before he retired, Col. Rabusa recently testified that he personally handed his ninong (godfather) Reyes –
send-off money near the vicinity of not less than P50 million…We had to convert it to dollars because it was bulky.
While Reyes was the Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff, Rabusa said he would hand Reyes’ office P5 million. This sum may still be explained away by the need to give the military flexibility in expenses. But the P50 million in dollars pabaon is hard to explain.
Reyes did not categorically deny it during the Senate hearing, although he later filed a libel suit against Rabusa and Senator Jinggoy Estrada. One thing about libel suits in the Philippines – the charge may be true but if there’s malice behind it, then it’s libelous.
Reyes said he had inherited a corrupt system. This statement would have been perfectly excusable if the second EDSA People Power uprising had not happened. The idea behind the uprising was to replace a corrupt government with one that would cleanse the government system, including the military.
That obviously did not happen. After Edsa 2, Reyes was seen as the second most powerful person in the country. Obviously again, he did not use his powers to cleanse military off corruption.
He told the source who told Malou:
While I am familiar with finance, I must admit I had scant knowledge of military comptrollership. Personally, zero experience. Never been assigned as disbursement officer, etc., no stint. It’s a military field of specialization that I do not have.
I don’t get this statement because like all graduates of the Philippine Military Academy, Reyes was an engineer who understood numbers. And if he did not know numbers, he could have asked someone to watch his back on this matter. After all, Edsa 2 had just happened and any allegation of corruption would not have been good publicity for someone like Reyes who at one point was considered to be a strong presidential contender.
I tried to understand why I felt that Reyes’ death was tragic in the Greek sense of the word – that he helped bring about his own destruction.
I realized it’s because the public had expected Reyes to withdraw his support also from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she proved to be untrue to why she was installed in office in the first place. Arroyo was made president not in order to improve the economy but to cleanse corruption within the government.
Have you read the satirical novel “Animal Farm” by George Orwell? That is exactly what happened to our country during Arroyo’s regime. And Angelo Reyes became a willing partner.
We need to understand what happened after Edsa 2 so that we won’t be fooled later on into making it happen again.